HELENA — Here is the status of the major bills before the 2011 Legislature dealing with public employee retirement:
House Bill 85, by Rep. Franke Wilmer, D-Bozeman, would require employers to make pension contributions for working retirees under certain public retirement systems. Status: Probably dead. Tabled in committee.
House Bill 86, by Wilmer, is a housekeeping bill to clean up some provisions of the Teachers Retirement System. Status: Signed into law by governor.
House Bill 116, by Rep. Pat Ingraham, R-Thompson Falls, would tighten actuarial controls to improve actuarial funding of the Teachers' Retirement System. Status: Signed into law by governor.
House Bill 122, by Rep. Sue Malek, D-Missoula, makes benefit and funding changes to the Public Employees Retirement System for newly hired employees. They include increasing the time to 60 months from the current 36 months to determine the highest average monthly compensation used to calculate retirement benefits. It also increases the normal retirement to age 65 from age 60 for new hires and raises the age of eligibility for early retirement for new hires to age 55 from age 50, with five years of membership service. It would increase employees' contributions' for new hires to 7.9 percent on July 1 from the current 6.9 percent and then raise them to 8.9 percent on July 1, 2012. The employers' contribution for all PERS employees, new and existing, would go to 8.17 percent on July 1 from the current 7.17 percent and then to 9.17 percent on July 1, 2012. Status: Before House, which must act on Senate amendments.
House Bill 134, by Rep. Carolyn Squires, D-Missoula, would revise benefits and funding for the Game Wardens' and Peace Officers' Retirement System. It would increase the time period for determining highest average monthly compensation for new hires to 60 months from the current 36 months. The employers' contribution for new and existing employees in the system would rise to 10 percent on July 1 from the current 9 percent and go to 11 percent in mid-2012. Status: Signed into law by governor.
House Bill 135, by Squires, would revise pensions and benefits for the Sheriffs' Retirement System. It would increase the period for determining highest average monthly compensation for new hires to 60 months from the current 36 months. It would increase employers' contribution for all employees, new and current, to 11.115 percent on July 1, up for the current 10.115 percent, and increase it to 12.115 percent in mid-2012. Status: Signed into law by governor.
House Bill 197, by Rep. Brian Hoven, R-Great Falls, was a proposed constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to change public employee retirement plan contracts with members to make the plans actuarially sound. Status: Probably dead. Tabled in committee.
House Bill 608, by Rep. Wayne Stahl, R-Saco, would close all existing state public retirement plans and replace them with a new annuity benefit plan administered by the state. Status: Probably dead. Tabled in committee.
House Bill 632, by Rep. Janna Taylor, R-Dayton, would change the allocation of coal severance tax revenue — not the constitutional trust fund — and divert the general fund portion to public retirement accounts. It would direct more than $15 million a year, starting in 2014, to four pension funds. Status: Pending in Senate committee after passing House.
Senate Bill 54, by Sen. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, would establish a hybrid tier for new hires in Teachers' Retirement System. Status: Passed both houses and on way to governor.
Senate Bill 138, by Sen. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, would clarify the funding of the Montana University System optional retirement plan. Status: Passed both houses and on way to governor.
Senate Bill 328, by Sen. Dave Lewis, R-Helena, to require new Public Employee Retirement System hires, upon the passage of the bill, to join a defined contribution plan instead of the current defined benefit plan. Status: Tabled by House committee.
Sources: Information from Montana Public Employees' Retirement Administration, Montana Teachers' Retirement System, Montana Public Employees Association and MEA-MFT.